Men jailed for conspiracy to pass off horsemeat as beef

Two men have been jailed for their roles in a conspiracy to pass off 30 tonnes of horsemeat as beef.

Andronicos Sideras and Ulrik Nielsen were jailed at Inner London Crown Court for four years and six months and three years and six months respectively.

Sideras, 55, one of the owners of meat manufacturer Dinos & Sons, mixed the products together before it was sold to other firms in a plot that deceived consumers and food processors.

Nielsen, 58, the Danish owner of FlexiFoods, bought horsemeat and beef from suppliers across Europe and had it delivered to Dinos in Tottenham, north London.

The horsemeat scandal was exposed in January 2013, when horse DNA was found in frozen burgers sold in several British and Irish supermarkets - including Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland and Dunnes Stores.

Sideras, of Southgate, north London, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud. Nielsen had already pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Nielsen's "right-hand man", Alex Beech, 44, arranged for the shipments to be transferred and handled the accounting. He was given a suspended sentence after admitting conspiracy to defraud.

The majority of the meat, including some from farm horses not sold for slaughter, made it into the food chain and, while the face value of the fraud was £177,869, police said the true cost had probably run into millions of pounds.

Sentencing, Judge Owen Davies QC said: "It was not confined to this country, not confined to the firms we have heard about, and it's a big issue for the public to be concerned about, but the fact is it was discovered by accident and only emerged as a problem because of your activity."